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Aleksandra Firgin-Hewie Murder Trial: 'No Mystery' Who Killed Ontario Teen, Judge Says

02/22/2012 01:25 EST | Updated 02/22/2012 06:00 EST
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BRAMPTON, Ont. - There is "no mystery" about who killed a 13-year-old girl found stuffed in a garbage bag with 37 knife wounds and 27 blunt-force injuries, an Ontario judge said Wednesday as the trial began.

Rafal LaSota and Michelle Liard are charged with first-degree murder in the 2008 death of Aleksandra Firgin-Hewie.

At the start of the trial, LaSota tried to plead guilty to manslaughter, but the Crown rejected the plea and said it will prosecute them both on first-degree murder.

"There is no mystery as to who killed Ms. Firgin-Hewie," Ontario Superior Court Judge David Corbett told the jury. "Mr. LaSota killed her."

There is also no mystery about where she died — LaSota's bedroom — or how she died, Corbett added. Several of the knife wounds were fatal.

Corbett told the jury what they must consider are issues of planning and deliberation, intention, as well as the level — if any — of Liard's involvement. They must decide the case on the facts alone, Corbett said.

"This is an emotional case," he said. "You would not be human if you did not feel a sense of revulsion about what happened here."

Firgin-Hewie's body was found with 37 knife wounds, most to her neck and upper torso, Crown attorney Jennifer Goulin told the jury in her opening statement. She had several defensive wounds on her hands and arms, as well as 27 blunt-force injuries on her head, face, torso and body.

Six of the knife wounds would have been fatal, including two that severed her jugular vein and carotid artery. Four entered her chest cavity and punctured her lungs. LaSota's DNA was found under her fingernails.

Peel police Sgt. Barry Leslie was one of the first officers to arrive at the LaSota home in the early morning hours of Dec. 11, 2008, after a woman called police to say her son just told her he had killed a girl, but it was an accident. He found two garbage bags behind the shed in the backyard, cut a slit in one and saw denim with pink or red material and flesh.

Leslie found that the body was actually in three layers of garbage bags, and after they were opened fully, "we saw little Aleksandra," Leslie said. A photo of the girl's bloodied body, curled up in a fetal position on snow-covered ground after she had been removed from the bag was shown to the court.

Leslie had met Firgin-Hewie a month earlier when she, Liard and LaSota reported that a mutual friend of theirs had broken into LaSota's home and stolen cash and a camera.

"I had a feeling because of prior involvements with the accused and with Aleksandra," that she was the victim, Leslie said, but "with the condition of her face and the amount of blood and so on, I wasn't 100 per cent."

Firgin-Hewie moved to Mississauga, Ont., from Port Perry, Ont., in the summer of 2008 and started hanging around with an older group, including LaSota and Liard, who were 25 and 19 at the time and dating, Goulin told the jury.

The group hung out in a tunnel under a train bridge, where one day in October, Liard told Firgin-Hewie "she wanted to experiment with her, that Ms. Liard wanted to cut Aleks up into little pieces," Goulin said.

When the police searched Liard's home they found a story she had written about a woman named Mischa — her nickname — and her boyfriend Rafal picking up a hitchhiker, confining her at a motel and stabbing her to death, Goulin said. In the story Liard describes "the muffled noises made by the woman as she is being cut and the amount of blood."

On Dec. 10, 2008, the day of her death, Firgin-Hewie was lured to LaSota's mother's house, where he lived. Firgin-Hewie died in LaSota's bedroom, and that is also not in question, Corbett told the jury.

LaSota's family members will testify about being in the backyard of the home with Liard that evening and hearing noises from LaSota's room, Goulin said. Liard told them LaSota was building a desk and she blocked their way when they tried to investigate, Goulin said.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 11 LaSota told his mother he had killed a girl but that it was an accident, Goulin said, and the mother called police. The pair was arrested later that morning.